Notes from NBA on TNT Playoff Coverage ­ Thursday, April 23, 2015

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage of the playoffs continues Saturday, April 25, with doubleheader action featuring the Atlanta Hawks @ Brooklyn Nets at 3 p.m. ET and the Chicago Bulls @ Milwaukee Bucks at 5:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by Autotrader 

Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith

Barkley on the idea of Cleveland intimidating the Celtics: “The words ‘intimidation’ and ‘bulletin board material,’ I think that’s always overused.”

O’Neal on the effect of intimidation: “For me, intimidation was my whole thing.  The guys I couldn’t intimidate, I had trouble with; Hakeem [Olajuwon] and Tim Duncan on certain days.  The guys I could intimidate, it made it easier for me.”

O’Neal on LeBron James’ ability to intimidate opponents: “LeBron, to me, is more on the Magic [Johnson] side of things; great player, Hall of Famer, first ballot..but he’s not really intimidating.  Guys are not really going to fear him.”

Smith on how intimidation factors into the game: “At the beginning of the game, you’re not intimidated, but as the game goes on and you realize you can’t stop them, that’s intimidating.”

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Cleveland Cavaliers (103) @ Boston Celtics (95); Cavaliers lead 3-0
Marv Albert (play-by-play) Chris Webber (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Webber on Cavaliers’ center Timofey Mozgov: “I love Mozgov.  He just does his job…He cut down the lane and finished like a big guy’s supposed to.”

Webber on a big man’s job on offense: “As a big man, you have to be two things – aware and ready to catch the ball.”

Webber on Kevin Love’s all-around offensive game: “Everyone in Cleveland should be excited when Kevin Love gets it in the post.  He’s a great passer and more than capable in the post.”

Webber on Tristan Thompson and teams intentionally fouling below-average foul shooters in the playoffs: “If you want people to quit hacking you, make your free throws.”

Webber on LeBron setting the pace for the Cavaliers’ offense: “He wanted to make sure he led by example, and the example was getting to the basket.”

Webber on Kevin Love’s impact: “It’s how he did it, not just shooting threes, but being in the post and also getting back on defense.”

Webber on LeBron’s minutes this season: “I know a lot of Cleveland fans are worried that LeBron played almost 42 minutes a game, but this season he’s played the least amount of minutes of his career.  Coach [David] Blatt said they’ve prepared for this all season.”

Webber on the Celtics’ team depth: “In the playoffs, 90% of teams… shrink their rotation.  [Coach Brad] Stevens said he knows that’s the way it usually goes, but he thinks they have strength in numbers and depth.  They want to play more [players], as opposed less.”

Webber on the match of the Celtics’ style and the Boston crowd: “Young teams needs energy.  They need to get it from the crowd and from hustle plays… When you show the crowd, you’re in it on those hustle plays; they give you all the support that you need.”

Webber on Boston’s philosophy: “This team is known for sharing the ball and getting guys open shots.”

Webber on silver linings for Boston: “There are no moral victories if you lose, but there are building blocks.”

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Golden State Warriors (123) @ New Orleans Pelicans (119) in OT; Warriors lead 3-0
Brian Anderson (play-by-play) Steve Smith (analyst) with Tracy Wolfson (reporter)

Smith on Stephen Curry’s development: “Because of his ability to handle the basketball, show shot and drive, and take the contact, he’s a little bit stronger and more confident than in his first year.”

Smith on Curry aggressively driving to the basket: “He uses his speed and ability to get the rim and he’s a tough puppy.”

Smith on Klay Thompson: “That’s the next evolution for Klay Thompson…putting some pressure on little guards and get to the free throw line and also be effective with his size at the two-guard position.”

Smith on the Warriors needing to cool off the Pelicans offense: “They have no problem scoring, but right now, they have to defend.”
Smith on how Ryan Anderson affects the Pelicans: “This is a different team with Ryan Anderson…[when he’s effective], it allows them to rest Anthony Davis.”

Smith on the Pelicans’ transition offense: “That’s what a missed [Golden State] three point shot does for you; it starts the fast break because it’s a long rebound and guys can’t get back.”

Smith on Anthony Davis: “That’s what makes him special.  Being able to play both ends, and with his length, he can guard you [either] out to the three point line [or] at the rim.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, O’Neal, Barkley, Smith

Barkley on match-up problems caused by Anthony Davis: “I would go to Anthony Davis every time and make [the Warriors] double [team] him, or get Draymond Green in foul trouble.”

O’Neal on Davis: “[Charles and I] love when big men come ready to play, and this kid is ready to play…he can do it all…he’s the best power forward in the game today.”

Barkley on momentum: “Once this game went to overtime, it was a rap.”

Barkley on New Orleans blowing the big lead: “If I was the coach, I would say I had a lot to do with us losing that game.”

Barkley on Golden State’s comeback: “Take your hat off to the guys from Golden State, but they had a lot of help from New Orleans.”

Smith on the Celtics effort: “I loved the way the Celtics compete, they just don’t have the talent level… They fought, they just don’t have enough.”

Barkley on Derrick Rose’s health: “I like the way he’s attacking the basket…When he doesn’t have confidence in his body, he shoots a lot of jumpers.  When he’s going forward towards the basket, he has confidence in his legs.”

Smith on Rose’s offensive versatility: “When he’s playing a mixed game, he’s one of the best guards in the NBA.”

Barkley on the Bulls this year: “This is a different Bulls teams than a few years ago, they’ve got a lot of weapons.”

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Notes from NBA on TNT Playoff Coverage ­ Wednesday, April 22, 2015

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage of the playoffs continues tonight, Thursday, April 23, with doubleheader action featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers @ Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. ET and the Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans at 9:30 p.m.

 

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by Autotrader 

Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith

Barkley on the Grizzlies chances in the Western Conference: “This Memphis team, I’ve always thought they were the best team in the West if [point guard] Mike Conley is healthy. If he’s healthy, they are terrific. They have the best center / power forward combo in the NBA.”

O’Neal on the firing of Thunder head coach Scott Brooks: “What he did wrong is he didn’t have all of his players. Really, he didn’t do anything wrong. It’s unfair that he got fired, but he had ample chances to get his team to the next level. It’s just one of those things where he couldn’t get past certain teams. He lost to the Spurs a couple of times, but he did an unbelievable job. I know he will be a coach somewhere else.”

Barkley: “Scott Brooks did not deserve to get fired. Plain and simple. The guy made it to The Finals, and has been in the Conference Finals two other times. He was missing an All-Star those years, and missing an MVP this year…getting fired was really unfair.”

Smith: “It was not a deficiency in skill. It was probably something with personality, between the players, ownership or management. It was probably something else, because if you look at his resume…it’s impressive.”

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Portland Trail Blazers (82) @ Memphis Grizzlies (97); Grizzlies lead 2-0
Kevin Calabro (play-by-play) Brent Barry (analyst) with Lewis Johnson (reporter)

Barry on Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard: “When he can get out there and get off the ball in attack mode, he is much more difficult to guard.”

Barry on the Trail Blazers’ lack of offense: “The Blazers are going to have to find some offense [in order to win the series], but I’m not sure where that is against this Memphis Grizzlies defense.”

 

Barry on Lillard vs. the Grizzlies defense: “Head coach Terry Stotts needs to find a way to get Damian Lillard better opportunities throughout the course of the game, and try to find fast break points. That is so difficult to do against this Grizzlies team that plays balanced offensive possessions and is able to get back on defense.”

Barry on Grizzlies center Marc Gasol: “It’s a great thing to watch. Gasol is getting into the paint and keeping his confidence going.”

Barry on Grizzlies veteran shooting guard Vince Carter: “He had so many great moments last year for Dallas in that playoff series against San Antonio, pushing them to a Game 7… Vince was brought here for some playoff basketball, hoping to find some of that magic.”

Barry on the disruption in the Grizzlies’ team chemistry with forward Tony Allen out of the lineup: “Some of the things [forward] Jeff Green was doing for them offensively were ok, but defensively they had just fallen off a cliff with Tony Allen out. It was a bit disruptive to their team chemistry to not have Allen out there, who is the heart and soul of this grit and grind team. Allen is back starting and they will get back into their rotation, tighten it up and rely on Jeff Green’s production off the bench offensively.”

Barry on Memphis guard Courtney Lee: “When you get some offense from Courtney Lee, Memphis becomes a very difficult team to stop.”

Barry on the strength of the Grizzlies defense: “The Memphis defense is so good. They are going to guard one-action. If your offense starts to get predicated on one-on-one basketball with them set, and you’re not shifting the ball from side to side, there is just no way you are going to find effective offense possessions.”

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San Antonio Spurs (111) @ Los Angeles Clippers (107) in Overtime; Series Tied 1-1
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) Reggie Miller (analyst) with Jaime Maggio (reporter)

Miller on the strength of the Spurs bench: “It’s so huge for the Spurs to even up the series. They are hoping the longer the series goes, the more their depth is going to rise up. You are not going to get a lot of production out of the Clippers bench.”

Miller on Spurs PG Tony Parker vs. Clippers PG Chris Paul: “The Spurs need a bigger defender on Chris Paul. After Tony Parker tweaked his leg in Game 1, I don’t think he’s strong enough to guard Chris Paul.”

Miller on Spurs veteran power forward Tim Duncan: “It never gets old, watching greatness. We have the best seats in the house.”

Miller on Tony Parker’s lack of offensive production in Game 2: “After the Game 1 he had, if you told me Tony Parker would be 0-5 from the field and only have one point in the middle of the third quarter, I would have guessed the Spurs would be down 15.”

Miller on the minutes played by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili: “That’s why [head coach] Pop kept his ‘Big Three’s’ minutes down all season, for times like this… In a time of need, you need your best players.”

Miller on the focus of Clippers point guard Chris Paul: “Chris Paul is so focused and locked in for these playoffs. He is shooting the basketball great and is running this team at such a high level. He’s a man on a mission.”

Miller on Clippers power forward Blake Griffin taking advantage of matchups: “Blake Griffin has gotten the memo. He is starting to recognize matchups. When there is a smaller defender on them, he just bodies them and takes them to the paint.”

Miller on Griffin: “It’s all about power and athleticism. When there’s a taller defender he is going to use that quickness and speed. With a smaller defender, he will use bully ball. He’s a big factor for this Clipper ball club.”

Miller on Griffin: “This may be the best I’ve ever seen Blake Griffin play. He’s engaged. I don’t know why it took until the playoffs for me to see it, but he looks like a different animal. He has taken this game to another level. He gets it. He understands it.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, O’Neal, Barkley, Smith

Barkley on the one-dimensional play of point guard Damian Lillard:  “The one negative to Damian’s game is, when he doesn’t score, he has zero impact on the game. When we talk about guys who are All-Stars and superstars, what separates them is their ability to make an impact on the game when you’re not doing what you do well. Sometimes you’re not going to make shots, but if the only thing you can do is make shots, you’re going to put your team at a disadvantage. Everybody in the NBA can play. What separates guys [are] stat stuffers who can do a bunch of different things.”

Smith on Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley: What puts the Memphis Grizzlies over the top is Mike Conley. He is the most underrated point guard in the NBA.”

Barkley on Conley: “That guy is a flat-out stud.”

Barkley on the improvement of Clippers power forward Blake Griffin: “He’s always played the game strictly on talent. Now he’s learning the mental aspect of the game. You can’t let these little guys guard you down low, you have to shoot over them like they are chairs.”  

Barkley on the Clippers Game 2 loss: “[Head coach] Doc Rivers said it; they should have won this game.”

Barkley on the slow pace of San Antonio: “The key to the game was the Spurs’ ability to keep it at a slow pace. They want to walk it up and down the court and use body movement and ball movement.”

Barkley on a tired, injured Spurs team heading into Game 3: “What’s going to be interesting is it’s a quick turnaround. [Tim] Duncan played the most minutes he’s played all season. You have to worry about [Manu] Ginobili. You have to worry about [Tony] Parker. On the other hand, the Clippers have no bench. This could become a battle of attrition.”

O’Neal on Tim Duncan: “Tim Duncan is a bonafide superstar. Superstars don’t have two bad games in a row. I knew after the first game, he was going to come out ready.”

Smith on Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle’s comments regarding PG Rajon Rondo’s future in Dallas: “It’s unfortunate because he could have been what they needed. [Part of it was] his inability to conform. You still always have to be a pro in that environment, which at times I don’t think he was.”

Barkley on Rondo: “It’s best that they part ways. It just didn’t work.”

Smith on the Atlanta Hawks vs. Brooklyn Nets series: “The Atlanta Hawks are a better basketball team than Brooklyn. They have proven it all year. They won 60 games, and the Nets side-stepped into the playoffs. How could you think Brooklyn was going to play Atlanta tough?”

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Notes from NBA on TNT Playoff Coverage ­ Tuesday, April 21, 2015

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage of the playoffs continues tonight, Wednesday, April 22, with doubleheader action featuring the Portland Trail Blazers @ Memphis Grizzlies at 8 p.m. ET and the San Antonio Spurs  @ Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m.

 

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by Autotrader 

Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith

Smith on Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving: “He’s electric. His ability off the dribble is second to none in the NBA. He’s the best in the business at getting to the areas of the floor he wants to go. When you allow those two guys to score, they are difficult to beat. He is a natural born scorer. It’s easy for him.”

O’Neal on the Cavaliers’ desire to keep this first round series short: “It’s advisable not to mess around. Go out and take care of business so you can get a couple days of rest.”

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Boston Celtics (91) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (99); Cavaliers lead 2-0
Marv Albert (play-by-play) Chris Webber (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Webber on the Celtics aggressive play: “The Celtics aren’t backing down. They are saying, ‘We deserve to be here too.’

You have to love how the Celtics are not afraid…not afraid to be embarrassed.”

Webber on the Celtics as a road team: “[I] love the energy of the road team. You want to see how young teams come out after a loss on the road. It seems as if this team is coming out and not thinking about the loss.”

Webber on the potential of the Celtics: “I know we are supposed to be focused on the series, but this young team is going to be really good in a few years.”

Webber on guard Isaiah Thomas: “One of the most exciting little players in the league.”

Smith on the Celtics against the Cavaliers: “You [the Cavs] are going to have to play ‘playoff basketball’ to win.  Typically 2-7 or 1-8, you don’t have to play ‘playoff basketball.’ They are forcing Cleveland to play ‘playoff basketball.’

Webber on point guard Kyrie Irving under forward LeBron James leadership: “It’s so great for Kyrie Irving to have a leader, mentor and big brother [in LeBron James]. He is making the most of it.”

Webber on power forward Kevin Love: “One thing we haven’t been seeing from Kevin Love is his passing ability because he hasn’t been getting the ball in areas where he is a triple threat.”

Barkley on the impact of center Timofey Mozgov: “Mozgov is the guy that turned around their season. They were too small with [Kevin] Love and [Anderson] Varejao down low. Mozgov is the guy.”

Webber on Irving: “Kyrie’s passing is so underrated because his dribbling is so spectacular.”

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Dallas Mavericks (99) @ Houston Rockets (111); Houston leads  2-0
Brian Anderson (play-by-play) Steve Smith (analyst) with Rebecca Haarlow (reporter)

Smith on guard Raymond Felton: “We know he can come in and play and that he’s not scared of the moment.”

Smith on guard Rajon Rondo: “Rondo has to be more engaged offensively. He’s a guy that can dominate in his position.”

Smith on guard James Harden: “He’s so strong, has the ability to read you and go through your shoulder. He’s the best at the Euro-step and laying it up.”

Smith on the Houston Rockets: “With this game you see how deep and talented this team is.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, O’Neal, Barkley, Smith

Barkley on the Mavericks: “I’ll take my hat off to Dallas. They did compete tonight.”

Barkley on the friction between head coach Rick Carlisle 

 and Rajon Rondo: “If you are not engaged in a game, how are you going to help my team? Clearly, they have something going on. My obligation (as coach) is to the other players.”

Smith on playing without guard Rajon Rondo:  “You are not going to win this series with JJ Barea and anyone else at the point guard position. You need Rondo. When he makes great decisions, he’s a great basketball player. So we need to figure out what’s going on to get him engaged.”

Smith on the Rockets errors: “The errors that they had were because of effort. Their errors weren’t because of negligence.”

Barkley on power forward Josh Smith: “This was probably one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play. He was fantastic.”

O’Neal on center Dwight Howard: “If he can get 28-15 and be engaged and dominate offensive and defensive rebounds, they can definitely win; but I need him to play like that all the time.”

Barkley on Josh Smith: “This guy has All-Star type talent. He was fantastic tonight. We are in the second round of the playoffs, so let’s not overreact, but if he plays like that they can beat anyone.”

Barkley on being surprised by the Wizards: “This is the Wizards team that we thought we were going to see all year.”

Barkley on the Wizards backcourt: “They have one of the best backcourts in the league. They are second behind those guys in Golden State.”

Barkley: “The next true great tandum is [John] Wall and [Bradley] Beal.”

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Notes from NBA on TNT Playoff Coverage ­ Monday, April 20, 2015

nba-on-tntNotes from NBA on TNT Playoff Coverage – Monday, April 20, 2015

TNT’s NBA coverage of the playoffs continues tonight, Tuesday, April 21, with doubleheader action featuring the Boston Celtics @ Cleveland Cavaliers at 7 p.m. ET and the Dallas Mavericks  @ Houston Rockets at 9:30 p.m

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by Autotrader 

Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith

O’Neal on the Bucks’ ability to shut down power forward Pau Gasol in Game 1: “Pau is ok with that. When he gets double teamed, he is a great passer. They won’t slow him down the whole series. He has a championship pedigree. He knows what to do to get himself going.”  
Barkley on the Chicago Bulls’ place in the Eastern Conference: “I think they are the best team in the Eastern Conference if they’re healthy.  No disrespect to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Chicago Bulls have the highest ceiling. We’ve seen the Cavaliers play as well as they can play. If [point guard] Derrick Rose is healthy, the Chicago Bulls are the team to beat.”
Barkley on the most important question surrounding the Bulls: “They have terrific guards, a great bench and Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol down low. They have it all. It’s just the same question we’ve had all season; are they going to stay healthy?”
Smith on the playoff expectations of the Milwaukee Bucks: “They are happy to be there. This is an opportunity for his young players to gain some playoff experience. This is a great opportunity for Milwaukee.”

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Milwaukee Bucks (82) @ Chicago Bulls (91); Bulls lead 2-0
Brian Anderson (play-by-play) Steve Smith (analyst) with Allie LaForce (reporter)

 
Smith on Bulls point guard Derrick Rose’s Game 1 success: “All eyes are on Derrick Rose. He came out and played extremely well in Game 1. The gear in which he played was flashes of the old Derrick Rose.”

Smith on Bulls guard Jimmy Butler: “He is one of the elite two-way players we have in the game.”

Smith on Butler’s strengths on both ends: “Back in the day, we would label him one of those players that just doesn’t let you off the hook. Offensively he’s going to drive the basketball extremely hard, he’s going to cut, he’s going to keep his body moving. On the defensive end, he does not give up on plays. He’s a fabulous player to watch and I would love to be his teammate, the way he relentlessly keeps attacking on both ends.”

Smith on Butler: “You talk about setting the table. I love the way he approached this game. He didn’t take a lot of out-of-character shots. Defensively, he was fantastic. Beautiful job by the Bulls backcourt.”

Smith on Bulls center Joakim Noah: “You talk about the heart and soul of a team. Physically he looks much better [than the regular season]. He is locked in to these playoffs.”
Smith on the struggle for Rose to remain healthy: “He’s gone through three years of everybody breaking down his game and breaking down his body. He hasn’t been on the court that much. We understand his talent is there, but he has to get comfortable. I just look at the way he’s moving. He missed shots in the first half, but he’s moving well. That’s a good sign for the Bulls.”

Smith on the pace of the Milwaukee Bucks:  “[Head coach] Jason Kidd is happy. The pace is to his liking. They are moving bodies, moving the basketball and moving around. They aren’t making shots, but their pace is wearing down the Chicago Bulls, which is what Kidd is trying to do.”

Smith on the defensive-minded coaching style of Jason Kidd: “Jason Kidd has this team on a string defensively.”

Smith on the experience the young Bucks team is gaining in the playoffs: “As a young team, you just want them to be consistent, knock down shots, make the right basketball play and move the basketball side to side.”

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New Orleans Pelicans (87) @ Golden State Warriors (97); Warriors lead 2-0
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) Reggie Miller (analyst) with Tracy Wolfson (reporter)

Miller on the defense of shooting guard Klay Thompson: “Look at his body frame. He’s 6’7 with long arms. We know about his shooting, but to me, what has separated him as a shooting guard is his on-ball defense.”

Miller on the Warriors’ home court advantage: “Can the Warriors win a championship? Absolutely. All they need to do is win all their home games. Who cares what they do on the road?”

Miller on the dangerous shooting prowess of the Warriors: “They are just too good and too lethal when they get good looks.”

Miller on why Stephen Curry deserves the 2014-15 MVP: “He’s the best player on the best team, and there were six or seven games where he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. His numbers would have been even more inflated if he had.”

Miller on the pressure surrounding the top-seeded Golden State Warriors: “The last two years the Warriors were the underdogs in the playoffs. Now they have a bullseye on their back”

Miller on Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala accepting his role as a bench player for Golden State: “How about a veteran being able to accept the role, and be the consummate professional coming off the bench. He’s No. 2 in the NBA in taking the charge, and he’s a role player on this Warriors team. It’s the type of player [head coach] Steve Kerr was…he was one of those role players. Yes, he made a lot of big shots in San Antonio and Chicago, but he did all the little things as well.”

Miller on Warriors forward Draymond Green: “I love me some Draymond Green. This guy gives you everything.”

Miller on the defensive approach by the New Orleans Pelicans: “New Orleans does a wonderful job of wanting you off that three-point line. The problem is, once they did that it was a layup drill [for the Warriors] in Game 1. They have to have multiple efforts on the defensive end.”

Miller on the Pelicans’ playoff inexperience: “Everyone is talking about the playoff inexperience of this young team. Yes, they scratched their way to get into that eighth spot, but they are here now. They were a little bit shell shocked in Game 1, until they came alive in the fourth.”

Miller on Pelicans guard Norris Cole: “He does have two rings last time I checked. He’s used to this kind of playoff atmosphere, playing on the road in hostile environments.”

Miller on Pelicans star Anthony Davis: “This kid is too good, too skilled and starting to understand the game. I think playing last summer for Team USA with all of those other great superstars really did a lot for his game.”

Miller on how the Pelicans should use Davis to punish opponents: “When you have such a prodigy and young talent in Anthony Davis… I know he’s young and this is his first time in the playoffs, but I would come down and make every single possession would have to run through Anthony Davis. He doesn’t have to shoot the basketball, but he makes the defense react in such a way where it would make the game so much easier for the other guys on the floor.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, O’Neal, Barkley, Smith

Barkley on the Warriors bench: “The difference in the game was the Golden State bench. That’s when they made their run in the second quarter. Barbosa was great.”

Barkley on why the Warriors are beatable: “People think I dislike the Golden State Warriors, but that is totally wrong. They have the best backcourt in the NBA, but Steve Kerr is concerned. They turn the ball over and they are great shooters who take bad shots. When they play against Memphis, Portland, teams like that…their flaws are really going to show. They don’t put fear in your heart. That’s the problem they are going to have in the long run when they start to play elite teams.”

Smith on the fear the Warriors Splash Brothers [Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson] put in opposing backcourts:  “They could get punished. They might not put fear into guys like [Clippers center] DeAndre Jordan or [power forward] Blake Griffin, but I bet you there is fear in [Trail Blazers PG] Damian Lillard, [Clippers PG] Chris Paul and everyone who is in the backcourt. They will run a play, but they keep their dribble alive when most guards would have to pass. That causes the most unconventional defensive effort. That’s fear.”

Smith on the Bucks improvement in Game 2: “Did you not expect the Bucks to come out and play well? They lost Game 1. They are going to be focused in. This was a do or die type atmosphere.”

Barkley on Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic: “He’s going to come in second for Rookie of the Year. They can’t afford to lose him. He’s a stud.”

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Notes from NBA on TNT Playoff Coverage ­ Sunday, April 19, 2015

nba-on-tntNotes from NBA on TNT Playoff Coverage – Sunday, April 19, 2015

TNT’s NBA coverage of the playoffs continues tonight, Monday, April 20, with doubleheader action featuring the Milwaukee Bucks @ Chicago Bulls at 8 p.m. ET and the New Orleans Pelicans  @ Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by Autotrader 

Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith
Smith on whether the Brooklyn Nets have a chance to win the series: “To me, this will be an Atlanta smacking… They are not better than the Atlanta Hawks. The Atlanta Hawks have been playing great basketball all year and they are mentally focused. They have heard all of the…not whispers…the are yelling that they are not good enough. Atlanta will smack Brooklyn.”

Barkley on the Hawks’ chance for success in the playoffs: “I’m concerned about the Hawks coming down the stretch. They took their foot off the pedal. I think they will win the series, but I don’t think you can turn it on and off.”

O’Neal on the Hawks: “No one expected them to win that many games. They are No. 1. They have never made it to the Conference Finals. I wonder if they really believe they can win a championship in their locker room. If they do, then they really have to take care of business.”

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Brooklyn Nets (92) @ Atlanta Hawks (99); Hawks lead 1-0
Marv Albert (play-by-play) Chris Webber (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Webber on Hawks guard Dennis Schroder: “He’s the longest short guy I’ve ever seen in my life. He uses his quickness very well. This team actually ups their pace when he comes in the game.”

Webber on the secret weapon of the Hawks offense: “So much has been made of this Atlanta Hawks offense. Their secret is they have two big guys in [center] Al Horford and [forward] Paul Millsap that can get out, play the pick-and-roll, contest jump shots and knock a few into the stands.”

Webber on the Hawks defense: “That chemistry they have on offense translates to the defensive end where they play for each other as well.”

Webber on the Hawks’ ball movement: “This is what they do and who they are. It’s also why they are so efficient defensively. They score, can set up their half-court defense, they don’t waste possessions by being careless and getting turnovers. You have to love how much this team values the ball.”

Webber on the Nets: “Regardless of how the Brooklyn Nets got in the playoffs, you better respect them.”

Webber on the size of the Nets: “Even though Coach Hollins said his team doesn’t have an advantage over the Hawks, I disagree. I believe size is their offensive advantage.”

Webber on Nets guard Jarrett Jack: “Sometimes it’s just about heart. He’s not the most athletic or the quickest, but this is when he loves to shine and try to prove himself…in the playoffs.

“He’s ready to play. He’s a [Trail Blazers guard] Wesley Matthews type player. He has a lot of heart, does it on both ends, is aggressive and gives the offensive rebounders a chance to get a bucket even when he doesn’t make the shot.”

Webber on the body language of the Brooklyn Nets: “What’s disappointing to me about the Nets is their body language. They are acting too cool. You want to see [point guard] Deron Williams start to get mad and be aggressive.”

Webber on Brooklyn forward Joe Johnson: “He is always going to be an underrated superstar because he never talks about himself. The worst thing you ever hear about Joe Johnson is that he’s quiet.”

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Portland Trail Blazers (86) @ Memphis Grizzlies (100); Grizzlies lead 1-0
Kevin Calabro (play-by-play) Brent Barry (analyst) with Lewis Johnson (reporter)

Barry on guard Tony Allen: “Tony Allen is hugely important to Memphis, especially for what they do on the defensive end of the floor.”

Barry on Vince Carter’s role with the Grizzlies: “He’s replacing last year what Mike Miller meant to Memphis in that first round with OKC. It’s been a low year for Vince in terms of shooting. They just hope that Vince finds a little bit of confidence for one more go.”

Barry on guard Beno Udrih’s importance to Memphis: “It was just a matter of accepting what he was in this league in terms of coming in, backing up and finding a home. Memphis gave him his shot…and this is where he is going to make his living. A free agent at the end of this year but an important part of what they are going to do this offseason… He’s just an offensive spark. He’s very good and very aggressive. “

Barkley: “[Marc] Gasol and [Zach] Randolph are the best center / power forward combination in the league.”

Barkley on Mike Conley’s health: If Conley is healthy, I’ve always thought that Memphis has had the most complete team…the addition of Jeff Green has made them a totally different team.”

Barry on the Gasol brothers: “I believe that Marc and Pau [Gasol] have the best career that siblings have ever had in this league.”

Barry on power forward Zach Randolph: When he’s playing good, the team is pretty much unstoppable.”

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San Antonio Spurs (92) @ Los Angeles Clippers (107); Clippers lead 1-0
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) Reggie Miller (analyst) with Jaime Maggio (reporter)

Barkley on the Clippers: “This is the year that the Clippers go deep in the playoffs. Chris Paul is on a mission. DeAndre [Jordan] is on a mission. This is the year that people are starting to criticize them. The guy that really has to step up is Blake.”

Barkley on the future of the Clippers: “If they don’t beat this old school Spurs team, they are going to have to break this team up.”

Miller on the pressure on forward Blake Griffin this series: “A lot of people are talking about Blake Griffin having to have one of those series if the Clippers are going to move on to the Western Conference Semis.  He has so much potential and athleticism, in a series like this going against [San Antonio forwards] Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan, he’s going to need to use all those skill sets to raise his level of play.”

Miller on the point guard battle between Chris Paul and Tony Parker: “It’s almost a wash.  Offensively, both know how to put the ball in the basket, and it’s going to be interesting to see who can stop the other on the defensive end.”

Barkley on forward Blake Griffin: “He’s the key to the entire series.  They can’t guard him.  When they put [Boris] Diaw on him, he can take him down low.  Blake has to understand, your move is dictated by who’s guarding you.  I want him to go to the basket more.”

Miller on forward Blake Griffin: “He can do so much. Not only can he score and rebound, but he’s a fabulous passer. That’s why people are expecting so much from him.”

Miller on Chris Paul: “He’s been so efficient with this shooting, not just in the playoffs but in all 82 games. Such balance and flow.”

Miller on the importance of bench play: “As this series goes on, it’s all about the benches. In my opinion, that’s how the Spurs won their last championship.”

Smith on the Spurs: “When Miami beat the Spurs, they had such superior talent in LeBron, [Dwyane] Wade and [Chris] Bosh.  However, they weren’t a smarter basketball team than San Antonio.  I’m not sure if Blake, DeAndre [Jordan] and Chris Paul are that level of talent over the Spurs, while the Spurs are still just as smart.”

Miller on the Spurs: “They don’t complain, they just go out and play; they are a machine.”

Miller on Coach Rivers and Coach Popovich: “This is a chess match. These are arguably the two best coaches in our game right now, going head to head in this first round.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, O’Neal, Barkley, Smith

Smith on the Spurs entering Game 2: “They are (very rarely) going to sweep people. They just weren’t making shots. They have had that happen before. They are the masters of the six, seven game series…You can’t say by one game the Spurs are the best team or they are going to lose a series.”
Smith on the flow of the game: “The Clippers did a great job of increasing the pace after halftime.”

O’Neal on the Clippers: “The key for the Clippers is, you’ve always been a good team, are you a great team?  Are you going to come out in Game 2 and put this team away or are you going let them hang around?”

Barkley on Blake Griffin’s impact: “The key was Blake’s rebounding.  If you can jump like that, you gotta average 10, 11, 12 rebounds a game.”

Smith on the Hawks passing: “This is called [true, redefined] ‘Hero Ball,’ when you have a wide open three or a wide open lay-up, EVERY time you take the lay-up.”

Barkley on Nicolas Batum on being the x-factor: “When he plays well, the Portland Trail Blazers have a good chance of winning. He’s the guy that can make up the difference.”<

Barkley on the Nets: “I like Deron Williams, but if he can’t play healthy, they have to go to Jarrett Jack.”

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Notes from Today’s Turner Sports 2015 NBA Playoffs Conference Call

nba-on-tntTNT is the exclusive home to more NBA Playoff games than any network including first and second round action and the exclusive presentation of the 2015 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. In addition to its full slate of NBA Playoff games, the network also features the multiple-time, Sports Emmy Award winning Inside the NBA studio team of host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

Coverage on TNT will begin this Sunday with a tripleheader featuring the Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks at 5:30 p.m. ET, Portland Trail Blazers at Memphis Grizzlies at 8 p.m. and San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m.

Additionally, NBA TV – co-managed by the Turner Sports and the NBA – will feature up to nine originally produced telecasts during the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The network will also provide comprehensive studio coverage via its NBA GameTime studio show throughout the entire playoffs, including on site at The Finals (including integration with the Inside the NBA team). NBA GameTime is the definitive show for comprehensive playoff coverage including highlights, analysis, player interviews and live press conference coverage.

NBA.com and NBA Mobile will also be ‘playoffs central’ with series breakdowns, live video coverage, highlights, scores, stats, social interaction, press conferences and more.

Notes from today’s media conference call featuring Turner Sports NBA analysts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith:

Charles Barkley on this year’s championship favorites: “I have no idea who’s going to win the championship.  I’ve been in the NBA for over 30 years and I’ve never seen a year where there’s no clear cut two or three teams… This year, there’s probably seven teams that can win the championship and I wouldn’t be surprised they won it.”

Barkley on the favorites in the Eastern Conference: “Cleveland and Chicago are the best two teams in the Eastern Conference, and when they play in second round, that will be the Eastern Conference Finals.  Cleveland would beat Golden State in The Finals if they played, but I’m not sure they’d beat San Antonio, Portland, Los Angeles or Memphis.”

Barkley on the most compelling first round match-ups: “There are some magnificent first round series in the West that are toss-ups for me; Clippers/Spurs, Dallas/Houston and Portland/Memphis, depending on health.”

Kenny Smith on the Warriors’ title chances: “I feel they are [legitimate title contenders].  When [2013-14 NBA MVP Kevin] Durant didn’t come back [for the Oklahoma City Thunder from his foot injury], that made [Golden State] a title contender.  Oklahoma City being the eighth seed would have hurt [the Warriors].  That opened the door… This is their biggest year of opportunity to get to the Western Conference Finals.  After that, too many things can happen and there are too many variables.”

Barkley on the Warriors regular season success: “They’ve had a terrific season.  It’s between Steph Curry and James Harden for MVP.  Steve Kerr is probably going to get Coach of the Year.”

Barkley on the playoff outlook for Golden State: “They’re going to beat the New Orleans Pelicans, but they have some match-up issues and I think they’ll struggle against big teams.  They are a legitimate contender, I just think bigger teams can beat them up down low.”

Barkley on Golden State’s offensive style of play: “I don’t like jump shooting teams; I don’t think you can make enough jumpers to win four series, and I’ve said that for 25 years.”>

Barkley on James Harden’s season and MVP chances: “I have said that if Houston ends up a top-three seed in the West, I have no problem if he wins MVP.  It has to be him or Steph Curry.  You can have other guys three-four-five, but if you don’t vote for Steph or Harden, you need to check yourself.”

Barkley on Chris Paul’s impact on the Clippers: “When the Clippers lose, it has nothing to do with [All-Star point guard] Chris Paul.  In the last five years, he has been the best point guard in the game along with [the Spurs’] Tony Parker… He’s the best leader in the NBA.”

Barkley on the Grizzlies’ health going into the playoffs: “I thought Memphis had a real chance before their injuries.  I thought they were going to win the Western Conference, but I have no idea how healthy those guys are going to be.  [Point guard] Mike Conley is the most underrated player in the NBA and Memphis won’t win without him.”

Barkley on San Antonio ending up the No. 6 seed instead of the No. 2 in the Western Conference: “The Spurs screwed up last night; no team is good enough to win three straight series in the West on the road.  These teams are really good.  You might win one series on the road, but I don’t think you can win two more.”

Smith on the challenge San Antonio faces: “I think they could do it for sure.  I don’t think [center Tim] Duncan, [point guard Tony] Parker, [guard Manu] Ginobili, [forward] Kawhi [Leonard] and [guard/forward] Danny Green are worried to play on the road.  It doesn’t bother them, and that’s the first key.”

Barkley on what makes Dallas a tough match-up for Houston: “Their best player is Monta Ellis, followed by [power forward] Dirk [Nowitzki] and [point guard Rajon] Rondo.  They will be a better playoff team because [head coach] Rick Carlisle will make adjustments from game-to-game.  He won’t let [James] Harden beat them four times in seven games.”

Barkley on the domination of Anthony Davis: “Anthony is going to be best player in the world in the next three years when LeBron gets a little older.  Anthony has a mismatch every night, and this will be huge against Golden State no matter who they put on him.  I want to watch that.”

Barkley on the outlook for Oklahoma City next season: “I said this earlier today to somebody, if Oklahoma City [gets back a healthy Kevin Durant] and they keep the team the way it is to go with [center Enes] Kanter, [center Steve] Adams, [forward Mitch] McGary, [forward Serge] Ibaka, in my opinion, they should be the championship favorites next year.  They are only not in playoffs because of injuries, and they almost made it without last year’s league MVP [Durant].

Barkley on Scott Brooks’ job security: “For some reason, people keep wanting to fire the coach and I don’t know why.  Scott Brooks has done a good job.  If you lose the MVP and are still fighting at the end, it’s a good job.”

Barkley on the Hawks’ series against Brooklyn: “I don’t think Brooklyn can beat them, but I think it can be a very interesting series.  What’s going to be real interesting is the Joe Johnson factor. I can promise you that [former seven-year Hawk and current Net combo guard] Joe Johnson is going to try to win that series by himself… The Nets won’t beat the Hawks, but I’m not sold on the Hawks because they are too little.”

Smith on Atlanta’s chances in the Eastern Conference: “[The Hawks and Warriors] both won 60 games for a reason, and [the eight seeds] squeaked in for a reason.  After the first round, with the best eight teams left, a lot can happen.  Atlanta and Golden State have proven that they are more than jump shooting teams, they have good defenses and will have a good chance to finish it out.”

Barkley on the lack of playoff experience for Cleveland’s young stars: “I think [talk of that is] a little overrated.  The Cavs [didn’t miss the playoffs last year] because of [point guard] Kyrie [Irving].  The Timberwolves [didn’t miss the playoffs last year] because of [power forward Kevin] Love.  Both of those guys are perennial All-Stars, and they have LeBron James, the best player in the world.  [Irving and Love] will both play well. They have an easy series the first round against Boston and the second round match-up with Chicago will be tough.  They won’t lose because of inexperience [if they do lose to Chicago], they’ll play well.”

Barkley on the positives of some of the Bulls’ injuries: “Derrick Rose’s injury and Joakim Noah’s injury make them fresher than most guys going into the playoffs.  We don’t know Chicago’s ceiling as a team since they haven’t played together for more than a few weeks.  I think they have the highest ceiling in the Eastern Conference.”

Barkley on the Bulls’ size advantage:  “If they could ever get healthy, they’re the best team in the Eastern Conference.  No disrespect to Cleveland, but [the Bulls] have more weapons.  They will have hands full with Noah and [center Pau] Gasol down low.”

Smith on the Bulls team approach: “Chicago has every element.  Derrick Rose doesn’t have to be playing at an MVP-level for them to be great.”

Barkley on the Raptors’ as a potential second round problem for the Hawks: “The second round will be some terrific series.  Toronto has played great against Atlanta all year, they won the season series.”

Barkley on the Wizards’ season: “I thought they came together and were looking great for the future last year.  They regressed this year. I thought they were going to take that next step and say ‘we’re here, you have to beat us.’  They were inconsistent and I don’t think they can turn it back on when the playoffs start.”

Barkley on the Wizards’ John Wall and Bradley Beal: “They have an elite backcourt.  Beal will be one of the best [shooting] guards in the league in the next few years.”

Barkley on head coach Jason Kidd’s impact on Michael Carter-Williams: “[Carter-Williams] has been playing great lately.  It takes a while, people think you show up and play.  It took a while to adjust [after the trade], and he’s played great the last few weeks.  Having what I call the ‘Point Guard Whisperer’ coaching there is huge.  Jason Kidd was best leader we had in the NBA, now it’s Chris Paul.  Kidd will turn Michael Carter-Williams into a perennial All-Star and that team into a perennial playoff team.  Without [rookie] Jabari Parker, I thought there was no way they could make the playoffs, but Kidd is so smart that anyone that listens to him becomes a better player.”

Barkley on the short-term outlook for the Celtics: “[Head Coach] Brad Stevens, everyone knew he’d be successful.  The problem we have now… is that no one has patience.  [President] Danny Ainge has done good job drafting, they’ve gotten better every year… The have something like 102 first round draft picks the next few years… I give them credit for being patient.”

Barkley on his expectations for the Nets-Hawks series: “The Nets won’t go out quickly, they have a good chance to make it a competitive series.”

Smith on the Nets’ season: “Brooklyn was so inconsistent this year, it won’t be a terribly difficult series for Atlanta.  But if Brooklyn had gotten it together, this could have been a series I’d think they could win.

Barkley on the 2015-16 outlook for Miami: “They won’t be a top-four team in the Eastern Conference next year.  You don’t go from out of the playoffs to being in the top four, unless they can get LeBron to move back there.  They need some more building blocks, even if they re-sign [guard] Goran Dragic.”

Smith on how injuries impacted Miami this season: “They definitely would have been a playoff team if [10-time All-Star forward] Chris Bosh was playing, probably around the sixth seed.”

Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage ­ Tuesday, March 31, 2015

nba-on-tntNotes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TNT’s NBA coverage will continue on Thursday, April 2 with a doubleheader featuring Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com 

Matt Winer, Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Scott and Isiah Thomas

O’Neal on Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard: “He is a young gun that plays under control. They are giving him more freedom. They are saying, ‘You are the future. This is your team and your time to shine.’ He is super unselfish…sometimes too unselfish. He always makes the right play. When they need him, if they need a bucket or a defensive stop, he’s the guy that they go to.”

Thomas on Leonard: “He is a reluctant scorer. Some guys go out and chase 30-points, but Kawhi will get it when you need it. He gives them the versatility that they need.”

Thomas on Heat guard Dwyane Wade: “This is where you know Wade is a gamer. He is tough. When the playoffs come around, you’re not playing back to back nights, so consequently, he will be able to get rest. They still have championship pedigree and knowledge. They know how to win. They won’t be fatigued in the playoffs and will be able to lock in on an opponent. They are going to be a tough out for whoever is playing them because of the way they play and the intellectual knowledge they bring to the game.”

O’Neal on whether the Heat are an Eastern Conference team to be reckoned with in the playoffs: “The playoffs are all about matchups. I think if they get the right matchup, especially in the first round, they can go pretty far. Can they win a championship? Probably not. If you’re seventh and starting on the road, all it takes is one game…win one game at [the opponent’s] place and build some momentum, come back home and win a few games. If they get in, yes they can compete. Can they win a championship without LeBron? Probably not.”

Scott on whether Wade can carry the Heat: “When Wade is healthy, he’s still not enough to beat the Hawks or the Cavaliers. He cannot do it by himself.”

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San Antonio Spurs (95) @ Miami Heat (81)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) Steve Smith (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Smith on Kawhi Leonard on the defensive end: “I am so impressed by Kawhi Leonard’s defense. Everybody is talking about his improvement on the offensive end, but to me it seems like he is taking defensive challenges and attacking guys on the wing.”

Smith on Leonard: “He’s one of those players that you can take him with those big ole’ claws and say, ‘Guard anybody!’ You have to start looking at him as defensive player of the year and as one of the best two-way players, because his offense is catching up with his defense.”

Smith on if Spurs veteran Tim Duncan is nearing the end of his career: “Just look at the way he’s playing. He is still having fun and they are still winning. Obviously he can call it quits whenever he wants to, but he is still effective, still winning and still has his guys in Coach Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. I hope, from a standpoint of being a former teammate and a fan of the game, that he doesn’t give it up just yet.”

Smith on the Spurs’ success in March heading into the playoffs: “There’s an outside chance they could move up to the second spot in the West. If you look at where they are in the standings, it’s phenomenal they could land that high at the end of the season. They know how to finish the season off. Coach Popovich does an excellent job of having his team ready to go.”

Smith on the combination of Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic: “It’s a great combination because both guys can play without the basketball, and both guys are terrific with it.”

Smith on Heat point guard Goran Dragic: “He’s a point guard that’s not afraid of contact. He gets to the line because of his physical nature and style at the point guard position.

Smith on the injured Miami Heat: “This Miami Heat team is missing players, but if they keep coming out and playing like this, they are going to have a chance [in the postseason].”

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Golden State Warriors (110) @ Los Angeles Clippers (106)
Kevin Calabro (play-by-play) Mike Fratello analyst) with Jaime Maggio (reporter)

Fratello on Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry as an MVP candidate: “If you had to make a decision today on who’s your MVP, it’s a hard answer. You have [Rockets guard James] Harden, when you consider his value to his team, but this guy is the best player on the team with the best record in the NBA. Then you have LeBron [James] playing as well as he is with Cleveland’s record. It’s a hard call.”

Fratello on Curry: “Stephen Curry is putting on a show for the crowd. This guy is something special. He is digging in against [Clippers point guard] Chris Paul. He’s not backing off defensively.”

Fratello on injured Warriors forward Draymond Green: “He’s part of that glue that makes the team work, because he goes in there and plays multiple positions.”

Fratello on the Warriors bench: “They have one of the finest benches in the NBA. They have a number of guys who have started on other teams in the past and could start for other teams now, guys like Barbosa, Iguodala and Livingston.”

Fratello on the quickness of Stephen Curry: “You can not lose your concentration on Curry for one moment.”

Fratello on the point guard battle between Chris Paul and Stephen Curry: “Chris Paul knows that the young gun Stephen Curry is getting all the attention this season. He is really going after him defensively.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Winer, O’Neal, Scott, Thomas

O’Neal on Kawhi Leonard: “I love this kid because he guards everybody. He doesn’t run from any challenge. He plays great defense.”

O’Neal on Leonard: “It’s scary. [Guard] Manu Ginobli is not playing like Ginobli, but the Spurs still have a big 3. A guy like Kawhi is a confidence booster and he’s a very unselfish kid. He’s responsible and gets others involved. He’s a great player. I’m happy for him.”

Scott on if he feels any different about the Spurs now than he did a month ago: “I feel a whole lot different because of Kawhi. Now that his offense has caught up with his defense, we know the system is going to work. They are going to share the basketball, that part we already know. Now any time Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Tim Duncan aren’t feeling well, we know they can play through Kawhi Leonard.”

Thomas on the inconsistent Heat lineup heading into the playoffs: “Most of the teams going into the playoffs have a consistent rotation, they know their offense, they have a consistent style of play and they understand each other. Miami hasn’t experienced that this year. Even though they have been to The Finals as a team last year, this team, this new unit is still trying to find each other. They will be at a deficit going into the playoffs regardless of Wade’s health.”  

O’Neal on the Warriors switch: “It shows me that the Warriors have a switch…second half they clicked their switch…third quarter [guard] Klay Thompson takes over and these guys keep coming. If you stop Stephen Curry on one play, you better not give him any room. These guys are very, very impressive. I’ve watched them a lot this year and I don’t see any holes in their game. They are playing together and flowing right now. Golden State is my favorite right now.”

Thomas on what makes the Warriors so dangerous: “They have been the most dominant team all season. They believe that they can beat the L.A. Clippers any time they want. Whether it’s in Golden State or Los Angeles, they feel like they can show up at a neutral location and beat that team any time they want to or choose to.”

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Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage ­ Thursday, March 12, 2015

nba-on-tntNotes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, March 12, 2015

TNT’s NBA coverage will continue on Tuesday, March 24 with a doubleheader featuring the San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m. 

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com 

Matt Winer, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Steve Smith

K. Smith on the Cavaliers path to the Eastern Conference Finals: “Their route got easier if [Bulls point guard] Derrick Rose doesn’t’ come back  [from injury]. Overall the Bulls are the team that could match up to the Cavaliers talent wise. Chicago has Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah – three All-Stars. How many teams have three All-Stars when their best player is out?”

K. Smith on how the Cavaliers would match up against the West: “Whoever comes out of the Western Conference is going to be the favorite. They will have experience, coaching and talent. All the elements Cleveland is looking to have…they will have them.”

O’Neal on the Cavs since the All-Star break: “Ever since LeBron took those nine games off, the Cavaliers are starting to gel. [Guard] J.R. Smith is starting to play like the J.R. of old. He’s more focused. If they get on a little roll in the postseason they should be the favorites in the East.”

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Memphis Grizzlies (87) @ Washington Wizards (107)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) Mike Fratello (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Fratello on the Grizzlies’ recent slump: “That’s because of lack of practice. This time of year when you’re not practicing a lot, you get game slippage. All you need is one good day of practice, and it’s amazing how it comes back.”  

Fratello on Grizzlies guard Vince Carter: “They know that Vince Carter needs minutes on the floor. This is a rehab period to get him healthy.”

Fratello on Grizzlies center Kosta Koufos: “He has really improved. This is the case of a lot of hard work, understanding the game, getting better, realizing what you can do as a big man in the NBA.”

Fratello on Grizzlies forward/center Jarnell Stokes: “I like Stokes. He has some toughness about him, hangs in there and has done some good things. It seems like he has a very high basketball IQ.”

Fratello on Wizards center Kevin Seraphin: “I liked him when he was first in the league. I thought he had a big upside. I thought he could be a post-up guy on a regular basis, could rebound the basketball and protect the rim. He hasn’t developed as far as I thought he might at this point.”

Fratello on the Wizards quick start to the 2014-15 season: “Everybody knew they had a soft schedule and lot of home games in the beginning. They weren’t tricking those who follow basketball. It all eventually caught up to them.”

Fratello on the growth of the Wizards over the past two seasons: “[Wizards head coach] Randy Wittman went through the tough years in Washington with young players. Eventually there was a point when he decided they needed to add veteran guys. Nene, [Marcin] Gortat and [Rasual] Butler came in…guys with experience, who have been in the playoffs. Then this team really turned around.”

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Cleveland Cavaliers (128) @ San Antonio Spurs (125) in Overtime
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) Charles Barkley and Chris Webber (analysts) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Barkley on Cavaliers center Timofey Mosgov: “This kid is the reason the Cavaliers are now contenders. They were too small, and he is a legit seven-footer. Mosgov and [power forward] Kevin Love fit great together.”   

Webber on Kyrie Irving’s 57-point game: “LeBron loves having some help. He is letting Kyrie do his thing, but could take over at any time.”

Barkley on Cavaliers center/forward Tristan Thompson: “He’s the best offensive rebounder in the NBA.”

Barkley on the matchups between LeBron James/Kawi Leonard and Kyrie Irving/Tony Parker: “How often do you get the four best players in a game guarding each other on both ends of the court? It’s pretty cool to watch.”

Barkley on the Cavaliers’ playoff picture: “They are playing in the East, which gives them an advantage. If the Cavs were in the West, they would have no chance. I don’t think they could win three seven-game series in the Western Conference. With a shorter bench, the Cavaliers can survive because they are in the East.”

Barkley on whether this game is an NBA Finals preview: “These two teams know they could actually play each other in The Finals. It’s impossible to play hard for 82 games, but when you face a really great player or team, your intensity goes through the roof. That’s what we are seeing from the Cavaliers and Spurs.”

Barkley on the Cavaliers offense: “The problem with the Cavs’ game is their half-court offense. They don’t get easy baskets.”

Webber on power forward Kevin Love in the fourth quarter: “The fact that Love is averaging only two points in the fourth quarter, I worry about that coming into the playoffs. You are going to need him to be engaged and get him involved in the fourth.”

Barkley on Kyrie Irving’s 57-point game: “The Spurs just need to shake Kyrie’s hand and say ‘you were better than me tonight,’ because he is making some shots that are ridiculous.”

Barkley on Kyrie Irving’s performance: “This is one of the best individual performances I’ve ever seen. He is making tough shots. It’s not like he’s been wide open.”

Webber on the Cavaliers heading into the postseason: “They are right where they want to be. They feel it, they have their chemistry going and their two leaders are hot like fish grease.”

Webber on the Spurs’ up and down season:  “They started out the season well, with wins on the road against teams like the Grizzlies and the Clippers. Then they had some injuries and tough times in the middle, but they have regained their identity.”

Barkley on the importance of point guard Tony Parker to the Spurs: “Tony Parker has been the best point guard in the NBA for the past five years. Guys like Marco Belinelli, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili need Tony Parker to be dominant. He is the guy who makes everything go.”

Barkley on the Spurs getting healthy and playing well at the right time: “We don’t really know what the Spurs are. This is the first time all season that [point guard] Tony Parker and [forward] Kawhi Leonard have been on the floor together in a while [due to injuries]. The next month is going to be interesting for San Antonio.”

Barkley on Kawhi Leonard: “I love his competitiveness. This kid is beautiful to watch.”

Webber on the aggressiveness of Leonard: “We always hear the word aggressive. Aggressive for Leonard means forcing the issue until he can score or pass. He keeps going.”

Barkley on the Spurs playoff picture: “What is interesting about the Western Conference is the Spurs could lose three games in a row and be the No. 7 seed. They are finally getting healthy, but are they going to have enough left in the tank to win three series on the road? I don’t think any team in the West could beat three really good teams in a seven-game series on the road.”

Webber on the Spurs success in March: “They are gearing up for another championship run. They play this time of year to get where they want to be at the end of the road.”

Barkley on Spurs veteran Tim Duncan: “He’s the greatest power forward ever. To be 39 years old and this excited for a regular season game is pretty cool.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Winer, O’Neal, K. Smith, S. Smith

K. Smith on the Cavaliers victory over the Spurs: “The Spurs didn’t lose this game; the Cavs won it. Typically you lose games like this because you turn the ball over or make a bad decision. I didn’t think any decision they made was bad. All of the sudden the Cavaliers came and grabbed the bull by the horns. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving made some spectacular plays.”

S. Smith on Kawhi Leonard missing two free throws in the fourth: “When you have a chance to seal it, you are supposed to be that guy and they want to hand you the throne in San Anthonio…you have to make one [of the two free-throws]. The game was fabulous, but you have to make one. You send the Cavs home if you just make one.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage will continue Thursday, March 5, with a doubleheader featuring the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Chicago Bulls at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m. 

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com 

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

 

 

 O’Neal on whether Cavaliers vs. Warriors is a potential NBA Finals preview: “A lot of people say, ‘W e’re only concentrating on our conference,’ but I guarantee you the Cavs are looking at what Golden State is doing. They realize they could play this team in The Finals. One team tonight is going to play to send a message to the other. I’m going to be looking for the intensity from both teams.”

Smith on Warriors point guard Stephen Curry as an MVP candidate: “Right now, Stephen Curry is the MVP. He has the longevity, but there is a guy coming like a bullet named Russell Westbrook.”

Barkley on Curry: “I love Stephen Curry, but he’s not the MVP. The MVP is [Rockets guard] James Harden.”

  Barkley on the Cleveland Cavaliers: “I think the Cavaliers are the team to beat now…because of the Derrick Rose injury, the Cavs are the front-runner in the Eastern Conference.”  

Smith on the Cavaliers-Warriors matchup: “This is going to be the true test. We’ll see if they are the best team in the East. This is a litmus test game. This is one of the games that you look at on our schedule and say, ‘We are championship contenders,’ or this is when you make substitutions and changes because you aren’t good enough yet. This is a real statement game for both teams.”

 

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Golden State Warriors (99) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (110)

Marv Albert (play-by-play) Chris Webber (analyst) with Allie LaForce (reporter) 

 

 

 Webber on Warriors forward Draymond Green: “The heart and soul of this team is Draymond Green. He is their best defender and their toughest guy. Having him on the floor is great for the Warriors.” 

Webber on Warriors center Andrew Bogut: “Bogut may be one of the best passers in the NBA. He loves to pass and gets everyone involved.”

Webber on All-Star point guards Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving: “You love seeing two point guards with so many skill sets, that get their teammates involved and don’t just play super hero ball. It’s a pleasure to watch.”

Webber on head coach Steve Kerr’s eighth technical foul of the season: “That’s just him putting his imprint on his team.”

Webber on Warriors sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson: “I know these are the Splash Brothers, but they can score in the intermediate area, they can score with layups and they play defense. It’s not just a three-point scoring team. You can tell by the effort of this team against the Cavaliers.”

   Webber on Cavaliers forward LeBron James: “He is so strong, he can’t be stopped inside and his vision is wonderful.” 

Webber on James as an MVP candidate:  “This is what’s scary for the rest of the NBA; while we have all of those other MVP candidates out there, they still better remember who the man is. When he is coming out this aggressively in games, like he will the rest of the season, he is tough to guard.”

Webber on the Cavaliers in the second half of the NBA season: “This team is getting their mojo back.”

Webber on Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving: “[Warriors point guard] Stephen Curry is the best ball handler of any shooter in the NBA, but Kyrie Irving is the best ball handler in the game…period.”

Webber on LeBron James: “I hope we never stop appreciating what he brings to the game. He brought the game back to a level where it was about the best player being part of a team, instead of the best player being the hero with his team just joining him. You have to love the way he gets his teammates involved. He loves to see them succeed.”

Webber on Cavaliers reserve power forward Tristan Thompson: “He gets the crowd involved as a role player for this team. He isn’t a starter, yet he is second in the league in total rebounds. When you have an energy guy coming in, whether in the playoffs or regular season, and they do their jobs like Thompson does, it helps so much. Not only do you get extra possessions, he gives extra energy to the crowd. It also pumps the players up.”

Webber on the rhythm of LeBron James in the second half: “When he starts off bullying, going to the paint, getting shots that he loves and getting his players involved, he seems to open up in the second half because he already has a great rhythm. Those shots are easy for him to knock down.”

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Oklahoma City (113) @ Phoenix Suns (117) in Overtime

Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) Reggie Miller (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter) 

 

 

 Miller on the dominant performance of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook after the All-Star break: “To show leadership is one thing, but the dominance he has shown in the month of February, averaging almost a triple double with Kevin Durant out and a quarter of his roster new from the trades.  There is a reason why he’s in the MVP discussion.”

Webber on the Thunder’s acquisition of center Enes Kanter before the trade deadline: “It was a great pick up to get Kanter. Now you have two young centers [Kanter and Steven Adams] to use with your superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. You couldn’t tell [recently traded center] Kendrick Perkins to go down and get a bucket, he was more of a defensive guy. You can do that with Kanter.”

Miller on how the Thunder are building their franchise: “I love everything that is going on with the Thunder and their organization. The two words they always talk about are commitment and sacrifice. That’s how they want to build the base of their franchise. They are trying to build through players that are going to be molded to play the way the Thunder approach and play the game.”

Miller on Russell Westbrook: “Have we ever seen a point guard that can attack the lane like Russell Westbrook? Maybe Derrick Rose before his injury.”

Miller on Westbrook as an MVP candidate: “There are 25 games left. Let’s say the Thunder go 20-5, get 52 wins and up to that sixth seed. Is that enough for him to win MVP, if he’s still playing like this?”

Miller on Thunder guard D.J. Augustin:  “This is a guy who understands his role and can knock down shots.”

   Miller on Suns point guard Brandon Knight: “Brandon Knight is going to be a great addition to this team. Playing with [guard] Eric Bledsoe, he is going to be ball dominant. Even though he is a point guard, he is more of a scoring point guard. He can catch and shoot.”

Miller on the Suns recent trade of Goran Dragic to the Heat: “Dragic wanted to leave once the Suns signed [point guard] Isaiah Thomas. He felt a little threatened because of the competition, for whatever reason.”

Miller on the impressive rebounding of the Suns: “I am shocked how the smaller Phoenix Suns are beating up on the Thunder off the offensive glass. The Thunder are normally the best rebounding team in the NBA…and it’s not even close.”

Miller on the Suns lack of a closer: “Who is the closer for Phoenix? Who is the guy that you can just put the ball in his hands to get you a bucket?”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal and Smith

 

 

 Smith on Russell Westbrook taking 38 shots in the Thunder’s loss to the Suns: “Too much Russell. He is playing unbelievable basketball, but he took 38 shots tonight. No one else got into an offensive flow to help them win against Phoenix.”

Barkley on Westbrook: “You can be a good player, you can even be a really good player, but you can’t become a great player until you learn how to make the guys around you better. When you are as explosive as Russell Westbrook is, you can take 38 shots a night, because you can get a shot every time down the court. However, he should say, ‘I’m going to get Ibaka a shot, I’m going to get Kanter a shot, I’m going to get Dion Waiters a shot.’ Just because you can get a shot doesn’t mean you should take it every time. It will make it easier on him.”

Smith: “Westbrook abandoned the game plan tonight. What he needs to realize is when they lose, they should still lose a certain way. He really put himself in a position to lose. He didn’t put himself in a position to win.”

O’Neal: “This guy can really play, but he has to utilize his help some more. Every time Kevin Durant is out there, he utilizes Durant as help. Westbrook can get his when Durant is not out there, but he needs to utilize his talents to draw defenders so he can kick it out to his teammates.”

   Barkley on the Cavaliers as a postseason team: “This is still basically a brand new team. Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and Timofey Mozgov haven’t been deep in the playoffs. LeBron James is the best player in the world, and the addition of Mozgov changed the team. They went from a small team to a big team. Then Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith gave them some athleticism around the perimeter. They are now the only team in the Eastern Conference that you would be afraid of [in the postseason].”
 

 

 Smith on the Atlanta Hawks: “We thought it was a three-team race, but now two teams are clearly ahead. Toronto is still in the boat, but they don’t have as many paddles as Atlanta or Cleveland. The one thing we haven’t seen is Atlanta in duress, in a playoff situation, seven games, meeting the same person over 10 nights and the same person is Super Man, LeBron James.”

O’Neal on the Eastern Conference Finals: “I think it’s going to be Atlanta and Cleveland as the last two teams in the East.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage ­ Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015

nba-on-tntNotes from TNT’s NBA Tip-Off Presented by AutoTrader.com – Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015

2015 NBA All-Star Reserves Exclusively Announced on TNT

TNT is the exclusive home of extensive live NBA All-Star coverage including all of the marquee events from New York. Programming highlights include the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 13; State Farm All-Star Saturday Night featuring the Degree Shooting Stars, Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest and Sprite Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 14; and the 2015 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 15.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Western Conference All-Star reserves:

James Harden Houston Rockets
Klay Thompson Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder
LaMarcus Aldridge

Tim Duncan

Chris Paul

Portland Trail Blazers

San Antonio Spurs

Los Angeles Clippers

Barkley on Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins being left off the Western Conference All-Star team: “DeMarcus Cousins deserved to make the All-Star team…the kid is a hell of a player.”

Barkley on Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard: “I have a serious problem with Damian Lillard not making this team. That’s really not fair. I love [Thunder forward] Kevin Durant, but he hasn’t played enough games. This isn’t a lifetime achievement award. Lillard is having a terrific year.”

Barkley on Thunder forward Kevin Durant making the All-Star team: “Kevin Durant is the second best player in the world, but he has not played enough games to be an All-Star.”

Smith on Durant: “We all know he’s an All-Star. He’s an MVP. However, there is validity to [basing All-Star selections] off of the amount of games they’ve played and the type of season they are having to this point. Damian Lillard and DeMarcus Cousins have played well enough in the games that they’ve played this season to be on this list. I believe in Kevin Durant, but 21 games isn’t enough.”

Barkley on the two Thunder players, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, making the All-Star team: “If the playoffs started today, the Thunder wouldn’t be in it…and they get two All-Stars? That’s not right.”

O’Neal on choosing All-Stars based on individual accomplishments: “All-Star is singular. [Kings center DeMarcus] Cousins is an All-Star, he’s playing like an All-Star, and like the best center in the league. His feelings are hurt and my feelings are hurt for him. He definitely got snubbed today.”

Smith on choosing between Western Conference point guards Damian Lillard and Chris Paul: “Damian Lillard is having a better year than Chris Paul. Lillard got snubbed when he was left off of the USA Men’s Basketball team, and now the All-Star team.”

Smith on Rockets center Dwight Howard missing the All-Star team for the first time in eight years: “It’s because of injuries. He’s been hurt, and hasn’t played enough games consistently to say he’s an All-Star. He is arguably one of the top two centers in the league. For the same reason we said ‘no Kevin Durant,’ they said ‘no Dwight Howard.’ Also, the Rockets won games while Howard wasn’t there.”

Eastern Conference All-Star reserves:

Kyrie Irving Cleveland Cavaliers
Chris Bosh Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler Chicago Bulls
Al Horford Atlanta Hawks
Paul Millsap

Jeff Teague

Dwyane Wade

Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks

Miami Heat

Smith on who was snubbed in the East: “The guys I feel for in the East are [Milwaukee Bucks point guard] Brandon Knight and [Atlanta Hawks shooting guard] Kyle Korver.”

Barkley on Heat veteran Dwyane Wade as an Eastern Conference All-Star: “Dwyane Wade shouldn’t have made the All-Star team. He is a Hall of Famer, but he didn’t deserve to be an All-Star this year. [Heat center Chris] Bosh has been the best player for Miami this year.  Brandon Knight in Milwaukee, Brandon Jennings in Detroit or Kyle Korver in Atlanta should have been rewarded for having good seasons. This might be the only time Knight, Jennings or Korver have a chance to make the All-Star team. I always give the edge to guys who are winning. Dwyane Wade is not having an All-Star year.”

Barkley on why Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver deserves to be an All-Star: “I always give the edge to guys who are winning. I would fine guys who left him wide open if I coached a team. Even if you have to hold his hand, don’t leave him shoot.”

O’Neal on Wizards center Marcin Gortat: “I think Marcin Gortat got snubbed. I think he is having a wonderful year. Washington is playing very well, and he is a vital part of that.”

Barkley on naming veteran stars to the All-Star teams over players having better years: “We all know who used to be great, but you can’t keep rewarding guys for what they used to be.”

Barkley on whether Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving or Bucks point guard Brandon Knight deserved to be an All-Star more: “Kyrie is incredible. Irving is a better all-around player, but for the first half of the season, Brandon Knight was better. He lifted his team to greater heights.”

Notes from NBA on TNT Coverage – Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015

TNT’s NBA coverage will continue on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET with a doubleheader featuring the Los Angeles Clippers @ Cleveland Cavaliers followed by the Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m.

  

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Denver Nuggets (69) @ Memphis Grizzlies (99)
Brian Anderson (play-by-play) and Reggie Miller (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

   

Miller on the Memphis Grizzlies: “Even before they went out and got [forward] Jeff Green, I thought this team was the best in the West. They have a great floor general in [point guard] Mike Conley and two bigs down low in [center] Marc Gasol and [power forward] Zach Randolph who pound the paint. They are tough to beat.”

Miller on Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol: “I think what Marc Gasol does at both ends, as well as his passing ability, really separates him from the other centers in the league.”

Miller on Memphis forward Tony Allen: “This is why the Memphis Grizzlies are a special team. Tony Allen had been the starter on this team for the past few years, through all their success. When they went out and got Jeff Green, this young man basically gave up his starting position. Allen is all about grit, hard work and toughness at the defensive end. That is a selfless player. It makes the Grizzlies bench that much better.”

Miller on the positive effect the Jeff Green trade has had on the Grizzlies: “[Memphis forward] Jeff Green brings a level of athleticism that this team has not seen. No disrespect to [Grizzlies guard] Courtney Lee or Tony Allen, but at 6’9” Green has an ability to both stretch the floor and knock down threes.”

Miller on how the Grizzlies get it done on the defensive end: “They don’t put you on the free-throw line a lot. They don’t foul you, so you have to make shots against their stingy defense. That has always been the mark of a championship team.”

Miller on the frontcourt duo of Marc Gazol and Zach Randolph: “We always get into the great debate of the best backcourt. We talk about the Splash Brothers, John Wall and Bradley Beal…but what about the best big man duos in the game today? I would certainly pick Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol as the best frontcourt duo.”

Miller on Green replacing Allen in the Grizzlies’ starting lineup: “This is a team that is going to go much further with Jeff Green on the floor than it would with Tony Allen. That’s not to say anything bad about Allen. His minutes will be very valuable in the starting unit.”

   Miller on Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried: “There is no way Faried is going to be able to handle [Grizzlies power forward] Zach Randolph down low.”

Miller on Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson: “Lawson leads the nuggets in scoring, assists and steals, but his game has been very inconsistent. If he wants to be the floor general on this team, he has to be consistent every night.”

Miller on Faried: “He’s a high energy guy. When he is able to get the guy off the glass and go coast to coast, you can see that athleticism.”

Miller on Nuggets guard Jameer Nelson: “Take away what he does on the court, his most valuable contribution has been in the locker room. His leadership and veteran savvy have really rubbed off on the young players on the Nuggets.”

Miller on the future of the Denver Nuggets: “How are the Nuggets doing? I just don’t know what direction or path they want to take. Before the season started, they were supposed to be one of those teams fighting for that eighth spot. They have kind of been a rollercoaster team all season.”

Miller on Faried: “I was expecting a bigger and better season from Kenneth Faried. I thought coming off that gold medal this summer and playing with USA Men’s Basketball, being that energy guy off the bench for Coach K, that confidence wise, he would come in and play like gangbusters. He hasn’t done that. His numbers are the same, but he’s not quite the same player confidence wise.”

Miller on Nuggets center JaVale McGee: “He has loads of talent and great athleticism.”

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Chicago Bulls (118) @ Los Angeles Lakers (123)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Brent Barry (analyst) with Lewis Johnson (reporter)


  Barry on newly named All-Star guard Jimmy Butler:  “He is absolutely remarkable this year. The things that he has been able to do and show regarding the growth of his game are great. He can post up at the 2-guard position. He can defend the best player on the opposing team whether that is a two or three man…well deserved All-Star appearance with many more to come. This guy works and goes about his business.”

Barry on guard Derrick Rose learning how to be a great player: “The greatest players in our league motivate themselves just because they are out here competing.”

 Barry on shooting guard Mike Dunleavy: “He doesn’t stop on the offensive end of the floor but is constantly moving…he’s one of the better three-point shooters in the league.”

   Barry on Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson’s athleticism: “I saw him play last summer in Las Vegas and there were signs of what Jordan Clarkson can do on the court where you raised an eyebrow to his potential. Can he find his way to be a point guard in this league where most of them dominate the game? I’m not sure if he is ready for that test but this season will pay some dividends.

Barry on the Lakers’ bench: “The Lakers have guys coming off the bench that have started in the league: Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin…these guys are capable of putting points on the board.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal and Smith

Barkley on Bulls guard Derrick Rose: “Derrick Rose is still playing like the old Derrick Rose. He’s got to learn that he is not the same guy. He has to learn to play with Jimmy Butler. You are a great player when you play with other great players. You shouldn’t try to do too much.”

Barkley on Derrick Rose: “He has to realize he’s not the MVP anymore.”

Barkley on Rose sharing the field: “You have to adjust. He can’t shoot 33 times. It was like when he was a one-man crew…but, in my opinion, Jimmy Butler is the best player on the team and he is also playing with the best offensive big man he’s ever had.”

O’Neal on what the Bulls need to work on: “They need to get their identity back on defense and create easy shots. Offense is not the problem, defense is.”

   Barkley on Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol: “The best power forward center combination in the NBA.”
  Barkley on Denver Nuggets: “We blame the coaches all the time and these players never take responsibility. It’s hard to lose an NBA game by 30 points. I feel bad because Brian is a really nice guy and a good coach. It’s a players league and sometimes the coach gets thrown under the bus.”

Smith on how the Nuggets lack effort: “They have to beat you one way.  If they don’t play you that way, they are going to lose.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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